Pests pressure is a serious issue for growers of industrial hemp. Growing interest in hemp farming has led to the reintroduction of hemp into US agriculture. In Europe, there was a 70% increase in the number of hectares allocated to industrial hemp farming between 2013 and 2018.
Pests – risk of hemp cultivators
Hemp can be a sustainable source, and many organisations promote such an approach. These days, hemp is farmed mainly for three markets: the production of seeds, fiber, and flowers. Hemp was grown in greenhouses on 1,449,287 square meters in the US in 2021. Although hemp has not yet reached its full potential in Europe, the business is expanding quickly.
A survey of industrial hemp growers in 2021, however, revealed that 75% of the participants reported losing acres to pests. The main pests of industrial hemp include hemp russet mites, twospotted spider mites, wide mites, and mites that feed on mesophyll tissue as well as cannabis aphids that feed on phloem. We can conclude that industrial hemp growers have suffered large losses as a result of ineffective pest control methods, particularly in greenhouse cultivation.
Cannabis pests research results
According to current knowledge, there are a few the most harmful pests in industrial hemp greenhouse cultivation. They are: twospotted spider mite, hemp russet mite, broad mites and cannabis aphids. Injuries from mites and aphids can result in leaf cupping and yellowing. This leads to leaf drop and decreased flower and resin production.
According to the research, Tetranychus urticae (twospotted spider mite) has the ability to reduce the amount of THC and CBD in hemp produced in greenhouses. However, the impact depends on time and density. It is more likely to happen in plants which face another stresses. Comparing plants with low T. urticae densities to control plants, also cannabidiol levels increased more slowly.
Therefore, it is crucial to create sustainable pest control methods. There is currently approval for the use of a few pesticides, and none of them is effective.
Interest in using natural enemies, like predatory mites, to control pest populations has grown. It is a result of the lack of efficient pest management techniques for hemp production. Utilizing beneficial microorganisms that can function as biocontrol agents is another possible method. Here we may speak about bacteria and fungi. However, these studies are still in their early phases, though.
In conclusion, cultivation of hemp is becoming more popular. However, industrial hemp growers face the risk of damaging plants, reducing yields and cannabinoids, if they do not take action in the early stages of pests infection. To ensure the hemp industry’s viability, sustainable pest management techniques must be developed.